Tobyhanna’s Employee Services Center Draws Awareness to Suicide Prevention

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month and members of Team Tobyhanna have many resources available to them and their families at Tobyhanna Army Depot (TYAD).

One such resource is the Employee Services Center (ESC), which is available 24/7 via the ESC Hotline at (570) 615-5591 for immediate assistance. The ESC offers brief, solution-focused counseling to help employees or their families balance the struggles they may be having.

When someone calls the Hotline, ESC personnel will confirm if the person in need is a threat to themselves or anyone else. If they are, emergency first responders will be called to get them immediate assistance. ESC personnel ask the same who, what, when, where, and why questions to all who call in so they can learn what the individual is doing and where they are. They make sure to stay engaged in the conversation and try to obtain crucial information that can be used to ensure safety. When the crisis is over, ESC personnel work with the individual to connect them to community resources.

In an effort to better the community around them, the ESC works to promote educational awareness, conducts annual training, normalizes conversations about suicide, and runs a Peer 2 Peer Proactive Education Program. These are all great resources that provide beneficial training for mental health and suicide awareness.

The Peer 2 Peer Program is designed to train employees on mental health, substance abuse, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and suicide prevention to better understand the signs and symptoms of each. Once employees are trained, they receive a yellow lanyard that will allows other employees to identify them as a person they can talk to about what may be bothering them. If more assistance is needed, Peers can escort the employee to the ESC or call 911 to get them immediate assistance.

Currently, the ESC is preparing a training called LivingWorks ASIST. ASIST stands for Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training. The training is a two-day face-to-face workshop featuring powerful audiovisuals, discussions, and simulations. Participants learn how to prevent suicide by recognizing signs, providing a skilled intervention, and developing a safety plan to keep someone alive. Three ESC employees recently received certification to conduct the workshop and will schedule trainings for the Tobyhanna community in the upcoming months.

ESC personnel caution that the signs of suicide are not black and white. They are complex and can look different depending on the person. Suicidal thoughts can occur to anyone, even if they do not have any mental health illnesses. Statistics show that about 5 percent of the United States population are having suicidal thoughts at any given time. Showing others empathy and letting them know they are not alone is a huge step in letting those with suicidal thoughts know their thoughts are common and treatable.

ESC Supervisor Ricardo Horn said that people with suicide thoughts are often in pain, isolated, and unsure of what to do. “Asking a person if they are thinking about suicide shows them you care and that there may be another option. Although it is an uncomfortable question to ask, it just may save a life.”

Becoming more informed about suicide can help prevent it. Looking for the signs and letting others know they are not alone is important.

Lackawanna College Awarded Funding for Suicide Prevention

The Pennsylvania Higher Education Suicide Prevention Coalition has awarded Lackawanna College a mini-grant to launch “You Matter”, a student-led project that combines a visual suicide prevention campaign with a one-day suicide prevention event. 

The grant will be used to install large-scale inspirational message decals and support an event for Lackawanna students, faculty and staff to provide education on suicide prevention. At the event, participants will write encouraging messages to support students who are struggling on a banner that will be displayed on campus.

The campaign, led by Lackawanna’s PRIDE student organization and supported by the Student Engagement and Student Wellness programs, will be launching a platform for creating an Active Minds chapter in fall 2021. Active Minds is a nonprofit organization that supports mental health awareness and education for students.

“Our PRIDE club students are so excited about this initiative because it reflects what PRIDE stands for in promoting peace, respect, inclusion, dignity, and equality with oneself,” said Christine Kiehart, Lackawanna College Associate Professor in Academic Development.

The project builds on the College’s current efforts to implement suicide prevention programming for students and trauma-informed care training for staff. Through the “You Matter” event, the college seeks to change campus culture by promoting positive self-esteem and encouraging conversation about suicide prevention and mental health.